New statistics from Mind highlight how little training GPs and practice nurses are being offered in mental health

Barbara Keeley, Labour Shadow Cabinet Minister for Mental Health argued that this report provides evidence the Government is not doing enough for mental health in the UK. Less than half of trainee GPs (46%) undertook a training placement in a mental health setting, a Freedom of Information act request has revealed.

The report, published today by the mental health charity Mind, also shows that the only mental health-related option offered to trainee GPs was in psychiatry, which is based in hospitals and secondary care-focussed.

Once qualified, GPs are required to undertake ongoing training in order to continue to practice, but, at the moment, none of the hours they spend on Continued Professional Development (CPD) need to have a mental health component. This is despite an estimated one in three GP appointments being related to mental health. Mind’s report also revealed more than four in five (82%) of practice nurses said they’d had no mental health training at all.

The vast majority of people with mental health problems who do get treatment are seen within primary care – 81% of people first come into contact with mental health services via their GP, with 90 per cent of people receiving treatment and care for their mental health problem solely in primary care settings. Given how big a role primary care staff play for people with mental health problems, Mind’s report ‘Better equipped, better care: Improving mental health training for GPs and practice nurses’ calls on the Government to ensure all GPs and practice nurses receive structured mental health training that is comprehensive, relevant and supports their ongoing development.

Barbara Keeley, Labour Shadow Cabinet Minister for Mental Health argued that this report provides evidence the Government is not doing enough for mental health in the UK. “This Government keeps talking about putting mental health and physical health on an equal footing but this report provides further evidence that this is not happening. “Primary care should play a vital part in the diagnosis and treatment of mental health problems and it’s crucial that GPs and practice nurses are getting proper mental health training. It’s just not acceptable that 2 in 5 practice nurses say they’ve had no training in mental health at all. “The Government must do more to deliver mental health training across all parts of the NHS and ensure that all patients with mental health problems get the care they need.”

Chief Executive of Mind Paul Farmer has urged the Government to ensure structured training is in place for health professionals. “For most of us, our local GP practice is the first place we go when we’re unwell – whether it’s related to our physical or mental health. GPs and practice nurses have an incredibly difficult job to do, under enormous pressure and demands,” he said. “A significant number of patients they come into contact with will have experienced mental health problems, yet many primary care staff tell us they haven’t had sufficient training to be able to deal with them. That’s why we’re urging the Government to ensure structured training is in place for trainee and qualified GPs and practice nurses. “Providing structured mental health training to primary care staff would help ensure they have the knowledge and confidence to provide quality mental health support to the many patients coming through their doors who are struggling with their mental health. Offering more training would help patients get the best outcomes while also alleviating some of the pressure GPs and practice nurses experience on a daily basis.”

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